5 things to watch this weekend – 29 September to 1 October

Humans go to war with AI, the erotic thriller gets a new spin, and Wes Anderson drops four new short films.

29 September 2023

By Sam Wigley

The Creator (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, including BFI IMAX

This latest sci-fi epic from Godzilla (2014) and Rogue One (2016) director Gareth Edwards channels both 1980s James Cameron and classic Vietnam war movies as it imagines a global war between humans and artificial intelligence in the 2050s. With the Far East in league with AI, John David Washington plays the American soldier persuaded to travel into New Asia, where his presumed-dead girlfriend is hiding out with rebels plotting the destruction of the US’s satellite defence system NOMAD. As in his Mexico-set low-budget debut Monsters (2010), Edwards grounds his futuristic world-building in a tangibly real tropical setting. It gives the action a weight you can’t get from blue screens.

Fair Play (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Fans of Michael Douglas era erotic thrillers will want to turn out for this smart, spiky new take on the form, which crisply updates the sexual politics without ever virtue signalling its efforts. Chloe Domont’s feature debut is set at a ruthless NYC hedge fund firm, where the intensely passionate secret relationship going on between employees Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) and Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) starts to curdle after one of them receives an unexpected promotion. Less a thriller than an erotic study of two competitive alpha egos locking horns, Fair Play also offers a lethal turn from Eddie Marsan as the firm’s head honcho. 

The Swan (2023)

Where’s it on? Netflix

The Swan (2023)
Netflix

The Swan is one of four new Wes Anderson short films arriving on Netflix this week, each a miniature adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s short stories. Featuring Ralph Fiennes as Dahl himself, it’s a chilling story about childhood bullying which Dahl derived from a real-life incident. Rupert Friend plays the on-screen narrator who, in brisk, clipped tones, relates the plight of a young boy who is spitefully picked on by two bigger lads. Anderson films this with his trademark formalism: all rectilinear compositions and artificial, storybook images. It might have smothered the disturbing tale but instead gives it a heartbreaking, contained horror. The other films are The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, The Rat Catcher and Poison.

Targets (1968)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Targets (1968)

Given the chance to direct his first feature by mentor Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich managed an impressive balancing act of paying homage to the cinema history he loved, while also making a darkly contemporary story rooted in the brutal new realities of the late 1960s. Inspired by the University of Texas tower shootings of 1966, and released in the aftermath of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, it features Boris Karloff as a washed-up horror movie star whose fate converges with a disturbed Vietnam vet embarking on a killing spree. 

Touch of Evil (1958)

Where’s it on? 4K UHD and Blu-ray

Making the jump to 4K UHD this week, Orson Welles’s 1958 Hollywood comeback film Touch of Evil drew down the curtain on the original film noir cycle with a tale of sleaze and corruption on the Mexico-California border. Welles himself plays the corpulent bent cop Hank Quinlan riding roughshod over the rules, while Charlton Heston is the Mexican prosecutor sticking his nose in and getting it burned. From the famously lengthy opening shot, in which a bomb is planted in a car and we’re forced to await its detonation, it’s a film where you feel the hum of the night and the hustle of a world thick with dishonesty. This Eureka set offers Welles’s pulp masterpiece in three different versions.

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